Thursday, March 28, 2013

Disney With Little Ones- Children's Activity Centers: The Never Land Club

The Never Land Club is a kids-only club for ages 3-12 where your children are free to play games, watch movies, make crafts and meet new friends.  It is one of five Children’s Activity Centers on Walt Disney World property with supervised “camp counselors” who ensure your kids have the best time.  These clubs are very similar to the Oceanear’s Club on the Disney Cruise Line ships.

Why would you travel to one of the most family oriented vacation destinations and then drop your child off at a kids club?  I’ll give you two reasons why we love the Never Land Club.

 My son is ready to go!

Naptime: This could be for you (the parents) or a younger sibling.  My daughter is not yet old enough for the Never Land Club.  When we stayed at the Polynesian Resort for a week last summer, utilizing the club for our 4 year old was perfect so our daughter could get a peaceful nap.  We would send him in at 4pm and pick him up at 6, just in time for dinner.  Mom and dad had a couple hours to relax, big brother was happy playing, and little sister got her afternoon rest.

Parent’s Night Out: There are so many delicious restaurants at Walt Disney World, so why not enjoy them with some adult-only time?  How about taking a dip in the hot tub at your resort with your sweetie?

Bonus: If your child is at the club during dinner time, usually 7pm, a full meal is provided for them at no extra cost.  This includes one entrĂ©e, two sides and a drink of your choice.  Your child also gets to pick a prize out of the treasure chest when you pick them up.

The entrance to the club is through Wendy's window

We often dine at a Disney restaurant for special occasions (birthday, anniversary, etc.) and drive up for the day or evening.  You do not have to be a guest of the resort to take advantage of any of the Children’s Activity Centers.

The Never Land Club is open from 4pm to midnight.  The charge is $11.50 per hour with a 2 hour minimum.  You can call (407)WDW-DINE for advance reservations or you can drop on in.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rafikis Planet Watch Review

I believe Rafikis Planet Watch (previously known as Conservation Station) is one of the most unappreciated areas in Animal Kingdom.  Snuggled back next to Pangani Forest is The  Harambe Railway Station. Hop aboard a train in this never busy train station and you are off. This train can hold up to 250 passengers, seated sideways, and takes 5 1/2 min to get to it's destination. Along the way, you will pass lush grass and animal housing. This animal housing is the area where, every night, all the animals on the reserve go to bed. This informative train ride tells you how they gather the animals every night.
 After the train arrives, passengers walk down a long path where a Rafiki statue is leading the way...along the sides are cute little nature things for the kids to do. When you get to the end you will see a very awesome mural with lots of animals on it adorning a building. Step inside and see another amazing mural. This place is filled with neat things to see. To the left is the song of the rain forest, here you go inside rooms and listen to sounds that are so real you will think you are really there. Grandmother Willow from Pocahontas does a short audio tour, as well. Next, you will see real working labs. Behind glass enclosures, you can see a real operating room and animal treatment rooms. If you are lucky, you may see some Disney castmember vets treating an animal. Further down are slithery snakes, frogs and those creepy animals we all love.

 In the center of the room, most of the time, there is a castmember with a real live animal telling about it. The day we were there, there was a  lady with a cute owl. She was very knowledgeable and told us all about this owl.

 Once you are done exploring, be sure to head out the back door. Here you will find a colored fence that houses a real petting zoo. Get up close and personal with the goats,sheep and the occasional little pig. If you find the pig, rub his belly,he will oink like crazy!! There are brushes on the sides of the fences. Take advantage of brushing the animals, they love this.  On the way out there is a nice hand-washing station.  Before heading back down to the train station, stop by the Out of the Wild shop for unique Disney souvenirs.

 Rafiki and other characters like Pocahontas and Jiminy Cricket make their appearance a few times a day here. It is almost never busy, so if you love Rafiki and nature, hop on the train and head over for some great photo opportunities and experiences.

 My family usually spends at least an hour here learning and playing. The coolest thing we saw last time we were there was a black racer was slithering across the path. Many people were wondering if it was real. I said,"Yeah, they are all over down here in Florida." 
                                                        Part of the mural inside...
                                          song of the rainforest...
                                             Owl lady..

                                          Operating room....

                                         My daughter loved the goats..
                                             Mr. Oinker..
                                          The train...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Who's Who Wednesday: Merida

-->If you could change your fate, would you?

March 8th, the world celebrated international women’s day. Being a feminist myself, I find that Merida is definitely a strong role model, a woman who pushes the boundaries of what it means to be female and takes her fate in her own hands. Starring in her feature film Brave in 2012, Merida is the Scottish princess of DunBroch with a love for archery.

At sixteen years old, this spunky princess doesn’t agree with the rules of the kingdom or what it means to be a princess and is incredibly rebellious, especially towards her mother, who is preparing to set up Merida up in an arranged marriage with one of the three Lords’ sons. The movie is named, aptly so, as Merida is brave when she disobeys her mother, chooses archery for the marriage competition and decides to compete for her own hand.

Adventurous and stubborn, Merida is furious when her mother denies her the right to choose her own paths and soon gets mixed up with a witch and, thinking the witch has given her a potion to change her mother’s mind about the marriage, ends up turning her into none other than a…bear!

Using her tough, intelligent, and kind spirit, Merida sets out on a way to save her mother before the spell becomes permanent. Merida looks much different than many of the other princesses, the first to be created with 3D effects. Her Curly, bright red hair is one of her main features along with her pale skin and freckles. Merida’s favorite clothes seem to be her dark green dress which she wears through much of the movie. Merida loves archery and often rides out into the woods with her horse, Angus, on adventures. Merida loves her family despite their differences, especially her triplet brothers!

It’s important to note that out of all the Disney princesses, Merida is the first Pixar Princess and will be joining the princess line up in June of this year! Right now, Merida is a very common character at Disney. At Magic Kingdom you can find her at the Fairytale Garden in Fantasyland. She can also sometimes be seen roaming through Epcot. At Disneyland, you can find her near It’s a Small World. 

Image Credit: Disneywikia

Monday, March 18, 2013

Art of Animation Review: Little Mermaid Standard

Back in May of 2012, my family and I went on our trip and stayed at Caribbean Beach but made it a must to get over to Art of Animation which had just opened its Finding Nemo section. Comparing that trip to winter of 2012, there was such a drastic difference. Obviously, the entire resort was open, but my entire opinion of the resort changed.

I was impressed little in May of 2012 and felt like the Finding Nemo section did not do the resort justice, and while the food court was nice, I wasn’t feeling it like some of the other resorts.

Fast-forward to December 2012 and we’ve decided to book a one night stay in Little Mermaid standard room just to see what it’s like. Wow! We were staying at Pop Century for the majority of our stay so our visits to Art of Animation did not end when we switched resorts. We walked across the bridge that connected the two values almost daily if not more. Just from the outdoor design of each of the sections I was blown away.

If there was a section I preferred the most it was definitely the Cars area. The cozy cone motel pool was absolutely adorable and felt like it’d been pulled straight out of the movie with the amount of accuracy in the structure. I was also impressed by the Lion King Section, but I thought the Finding Nemo section left me a little bored.

I was really surprised at how beautiful and well put-together the Little Mermaid section was, especially the outdoor standard rooms. Unfortunately since we could only afford the cheaper rooms, we never did get to go to the indoor rooms with the kitchenettes, so this is only a review of the standard section. Still, the Little Mermaid room was gorgeous and I was taken aback by how well themed it was. From the shower tiles, mirrors, curtain, wall-hangings, beds, to the awesome-shaped dresser, I was in Little Mermaid heaven! The room was just a little bigger than the standard value rooms, and the hotel was buzzing just like Pop Century usually is. The night that we checked in I stood out on the balcony and saw a ton of people walking around the area taking photos, it was really peaceful and made me even more excited about this trip.

In May we had already explored the pool and food court. A new feature they added to this value resort was the locked pool area. In order to access the pool you must have a key card to Art of Animation specifically. This is to keep pool hoppers from Pop Century out and seems pretty effective, but most of the time when we walked around the gates were cracked open.

My mom really enjoyed the food court, especially since it was the only resort we had been to while at Disney that had the specific rounded softer ice which my mom is addicted to. I have already done a review for the Landscape of Flavors if you search through the blog which will give you more insight into the food court. Comparing the design of the food court to Pop Century, this one definitely outshines Pop. Landscape of Flavors also seemed to have more food options than most of the resorts, and remember, non-Art of Animation guests are more than welcome to visit the resort and eat at the food court. If you are interested in checking out the hotel for yourself, just take a bus over or let the security guard know you are visiting if you are driving yourself. 

One of my absolute favorite parts of Art of Animation is the check-in area. As a graphics student, I know that colors have a huge impact and the colorful check-in area is a feast for your eyes! Overall this hotel was bigger than the usual values, which means it never seemed as crowded as Pop Century. It’s true that the bridge right near the food court leads you straight to Pop Century which is a big positive in my book. If you are looking for a quieter hotel and still have that splash of Disney definitely check out Art of Animation. Just beware that Little Mermaid is the only section with standard rooms so you’ll have to fork out some extra dough for the Finding Nemo, Lion King, and Cars section.

Conclusion: Little Mermaid Standard

Distance from Parks: A (It’s not more than 5 minutes away from any park if you are driving yourself, so don’t worry!)

Transportation: C (Just luck)

Food: B (About the same as most of the value resorts)

Rooms: A-   (A little bigger than Pop Century, and the theme of even the standard room is awesome!)

Design & Theme: A (Disney, Disney, Disney!)

Relaxing: B (Since it’s new there is still quite a crowd, but because it’s a little bigger it’s not usually too loud.)

Cast Members: A!

Mood: A- (At times it seemed a little dead, but still nice)

Total: A-

While the resort was absolutely stunning and the design was great, I couldn’t help but feel there was something missing in the atmosphere. Maybe because of its newness, I felt like it hadn’t experienced as much as the other resorts. It’s possible that my family and I just hadn’t made enough memories there or we hadn’t spent enough time there to really come to love the resort. At Caribbean Beach we had this same problem for a couple days but after spending more than a week there on vacation we began to fall in love with it and left with sadness in our hearts. It’s possible we hadn’t made it to that point with Art of Animation. With that said I’d definitely love to stay there again, in the Cars section specifically! 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Foodie Friday: Sci-Fi Dine In Theater

This was one of the coolest places for atmosphere that  I have ever eaten at in Disney. We made reservations for lunch, which is strongly recommended. We were given a pager and only had to wait  10 minutes to be seated  We were walked through a hall and into the room where all the 50's style cars were. It was really like I was back in my home town, when I was a kid. I remember us all loading into the family car and sitting in the drive in. You are seated and given menus, there are lights so you can see the menus.  We picked what we wanted to eat and were brought everything fairly quickly.  What I thought was cute was, if you are a small party, you would be told they picked up some hitchhikers and sat them in your car. Our car was full, with my family.

   The atmosphere was so neat. You are sitting in a car and the room is pretty dark. You are sitting under the stars, a huge screen is up at the front of the room playing all the 1950's creepy movie clips. The loop of that lasted about 30 minutes then replayed. We got our food, which was all American style food. I ordered the All American burger which was a burger, a hot dog, sauerkraut  and grilled onion with ketchup, mustard and pickle. It was pretty good. My hubby got the Reuben and said it was good. He also got an alcoholic drink,they have a good choice of these.  He got the Space Monkey, which was a chocolate shake, with rum and banana liqueur  I could have had 5 of those, the were soooo good!!! They also have flavors for your sodas, if you wanted a watermelon sprite, or chocolate coke, you could do it! I chose to just have a regular drink. My kids got an appetizer, meal and dessert for under $10.00 each, this was a great deal.

 The prices for lunch are $15.00-$35.00 depending on what you order. They are located on Commissary Lane in Hollywood Studios and open at 11:00 A.M.. My only advice is if you are Poh sized, ask for the chair seating. You are still sitting at a car, but are not in a booth. This will be my choice next time for comfort.

                                              Part of the menu..
                                          My daughter
                                            The space monkey..with colored cube...
                                               All American burger..
                                          Kids chicken and fish..

                                          The Reuben...

                                           Kids dessert...

Our car,the waitress was so nice, she took my camera,and took pics for us!!!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Adult Time on a Disney Alaskan Cruise

Adult time on a Disney Cruise? Why of course! Cocktails and snacks, pools that heat up automatically and dinner time alone. A cruise to Alaska offers this and much more. You can emerge yourselves in a couples massage or sip a latte' while admiring the beauty of Alaskan nature. Check out this video to see it all.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March Travel Special

Like many of you I wait for the popular FREE Disney Dining promotion to be announced before I book my fall Disney package.  I have decided to forget about FREE Disney Dining. This way if it does not happen I don’t have to be upset about it. For years I have traveled with my family to Disney in  October when FREE Dining has been the deal and I have to admit…if it was Disney’s intention to get us all hooked on the plan by offering FREE Dining, they succeeded. Historically the offer has been released around the first Monday in March…well that day has come and gone without any announcement of new deals for the fall.
So rather than think about things out of my control I decided to make you an offer that you cannot refuse! How about a FREE Gift Card Offer? When you book a Magic Your Way Vacation Package for travel between July 1, 2013 and October 31,2013. For a FREE quote, email me at
So as you wait for Disney to release a deal why not take me up on mine? I will monitor your reservation for any discounts and apply them if/when they become available.
Here’s the offer!!!
  • For packages with a total of  $1500-$3000 you will receive a FREE $25 Gift Card.
  • For packages with a total of $3001-$5000 you will receive a FREE $50 Gift Card.
  • For packages with a total of $5001 and up you will receive a FREE $75 Gift Card.
Some small print for you…
  • Must book between 3/11/13-3/22/11.
  • Package MUST be a Magic Your Way Package and include at least 3 days of park tickets in order to qualify.
  • Gift Cards will be sent with final travel documents approximately 10 days prior to travel.
  • Airfare and insurance are not included with this offer.
  • Offer valid with the final purchase price 45 days prior to travel.
  • This is for packages booked between 7/1/2013-10/31/2013.
  • Must Mention this offer at the time you request the quote.
  • Offer applies to NEW bookings only.

Who's Who Wednesday: Kuzco


If there is one Disney character who could claim the “most sassy” award it would definitely be Emperor Kuzco from the movie The Emperor’s New Groove. Debuting in 2000, David Spade voices that ever so childish Kuzco. Emperor of the Kuzoconian Empire in Peru, Kuzco runs his empire on carelessly, making decisions on whims and catering to his own personal needs rather than the catering to his citizens. We can’t be too hard on the kid since Kuzco is only 18 and his parents are missing throughout most of the movie. The main problem in The Emperor’s New Groove is that Kuzco has somehow….welll…gotten himself turned into a llama.

This all begins when Kuzco tries to kick out a village in order to build himself a new waterpark. These citizens, including the kind Pacha, are not able to find anywhere to go. Antagonist, Yzma with her sidekick Kronk (advisers to the king), are in the business of killing Kuzco so that they may take over the kingdom for themselves. Things don’t exactly go according to plan and Kuzco ends up… as a llama and must befriend Pacha In order to regain his rightful seat on the throne. 

Pacha and Kuzco develop a rocky yet lasting friendship through their trials and Kuzco learns a lot on his journey back to the kingdom. For a long portion of the movie, Kuzco remains a llama but his selfish and sarcastic attitude shines through as bright as ever. Not everything about Kuzco is bad, he does provide a lot of comic relief and viewers can relate to Kuzco’s child-like need for every desire. 

Kuzco has a couple of his own catch phrases including “You threw off my groove!”  and “No touchies!”.  You can catch Kuzco in a couple of other movies including Kronk’s New Groove, the television show The Emperor’s New School, and Disney’s House of Mouse series. 

Kuzco is a very rare character to meet but if you want to find him you might hang around Disney’s Hollywood Studios and see if you can catch him. He’ll be in his llama form! If you’re not so lucky head over to WDW Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom and play a couple games with Kuzco and help him defeat Yzma! 

Photo Credit: Disneywikia